Ordering Prints: Matte or Glossy?

When ordering photographic prints of your digital photos, there are 3 major decisions you need to make...

  1. Where should I get them printed?

  2. What size prints or canvases do I need?

  3. Should I print them with a matte or glossy finish?

Here, I'm going to address the third question, since we really already know the answer to #1 (from a professional lab - I'll explain why later) and #2 (bigger is always better - see suggestions here).  While ultimately it comes down to personal preference, there are some things to consider regarding both the matte (aka "lustre") and glossy options.

Glossy

Glossy prints are the most popular because they show off an image's vibrant color and they often appear crisper and sharper than the matte alternative for colored prints.  If you're printing a landscape or nature shot, it may display better in a glossy print to bring out the color of the scene.

Pros

  • Crisper
  • Show rich, deep colors

CONS

  • Fingerprints are more visible
  • More likely to stick to the glass of a frame

 

Matte

Matte paper is excellent for displaying prints that will be displayed "naked" (outside of a frame), or in an area that gets a lot of sunlight.  It prints with a more "film" look, with less contrast than a bolder glossy equivalent.  Larger prints and canvas gallery wraps often appear better with a matte finish.

PROS

  • Great attention to detail
  • Ability to hide fingerprints and resist scratches due to their textured finish
  • Look nice in a frame, as they are easier to view in all kinds of light without glare

CONS

  • Less vibrant color
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